Arson is now the largest single cause of major fires in the UK - and it's on the increase. Each week in the UK there are over 2,210 arson attacks that kill 2 people, leave over 50 with major injuries and over 360 businesses and public buildings are damaged or destroyed. The cost to the UK economy is estimated at over £53 million per week.
Given the likely impact of an arson attack on a business and it's ability to keep trading, it makes sense for Business Owners to identify the risks of arson and take steps to prevent it from occurring. Commercial premises can be targeted by arsonists for a number of reasons, including deliberately or just because they sometimes over an easy target. Fires started by arsonists can be particularly dangerous because they generally develop much faster and may be intentionally started in escape routes.
Business owners should consider all the ways in which someone could start a fire deliberately - both inside and outside the premises - and identify whether the premises are vulnerable to arson - for example if rubbish is regularly piled up on site or is there is easy access to the site. Warning signs to look out for include small fires being started around the local area recently or in the past and other forms of vandalism - such as graffiti or damage to a site nearby.
An action plan should then be developed to prevent an arson attack, using measures such as:
• Ensuring the outside of the premises is well lit and, if practical, securing the perimeter of the premises.
• Thoroughly securing all entry points to the premises, including windows and the roof - however this must not stop people accessing the escape routes.
• Ensure that doors and windows are in good repair and that locks are working. Also identify any possible entry routes for intruders eg via yards, drainpipes and even flat roofs.
• Making sure that all combustible rubbish is removed regularly
• Ensuring that rubbish skips are not placed adjacent to the building and waste bins are secured away from the building
• Removing automatic entry rights from staff who have been dismissed and regularly changing key codes.
• Securing flammable liquids so that intruders cannot use them
• Fitting secure metal letterboxes on the inside of letterboxes to contain any burning material that may be pushed through.
• Not parking vehicles or storing goods or materials in the open next to windows or doors that open into the building.
Sadly, from the amount of businesses being affected by arson and its after effects, many business owners need to take action to ensure that they have made their premises as low risk as is possible, but even then a committed arsonist may still destroy all your hard work.
Nigel J Welford is a qualified Health & Safety professional and believes in making health and safety as simple as possible whilst still being effective and meeting all the regulations. For his free report "The Secret To How Health & Safety Can Improve Your Business And Profits: 7 Everyday Pitfalls To Avoid" from http://www.healthandsafetyintheworkplace.com
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